Lawsuit against former premier, P.E.I. government, refiled by three whistleblowers


CHARLOTTETOWN – Three whistleblowers whose private information was leaked from Prince Edward Island’s government to the Liberal Party have refiled a lawsuit naming the province, a former premier and top officials, claiming over $1.8 million in damages.

The lawsuit says that after the three women came forward at a 2011 news conference with allegations of corruption in the province’s business immigration program, personal information designed to harm their claim was fed to the media by top Liberals.

An earlier statement of claim, which has not been proven in court, was originally filed in the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island on Feb. 7 by Susan Holmes, Cora Plourd Nicholson and Svetlana Tenetko.

The lawsuit filed Monday _ which contains the same claims _ names as defendants the province, former premier Robert Ghiz, former innovation minister Allan Campbell, and former deputy minister of economic development Michael Mayne.

John Kingman Phillips, a Toronto-based lawyer said in an interview that the claim was refiled due to a “technicality” because the province and “government-related defendants” had “demanded notice under provincial legislation.”

A report by the province’s privacy commissioner _ completed six years after the women’s initial complaint _ found the province had breached the women’s privacy rights, though it couldn’t specifically say how the leak occurred.

The statement of claim again alleges personal information was printed out on Sept. 15, 2011 in the innovation minister’s office as the province was just weeks away from an Oct. 3 provincial election.

It also says the defendants were involved with “organizing a press release … that included defamatory statements about the plaintiffs in order to undermine their standing and the strength of their allegations against the government.”

Ghiz denounced their allegations before going on to win the election.

Reached by telephone on Tuesday, Ghiz declined to comment on the action as it is before the courts.

One of the released files revealed Nicholson’s affiliation with the Tories years earlier, as well as confidential details of a human rights complaint she’d launched for job discrimination on the basis of her political affiliation.

Emailed records of the two other employees were also shared with the media.

The women had come forward to discuss the province’s provincial nominee immigration program, alleging applications that didn’t meet criteria were approved and that applications were fast tracked.